AUSTIN (KXAN) — Thursday, city leaders approved a multi-million dollar proposal which is geared toward aiding Austin traffic, but critics question if will help.
Council members voted to fund a $2.5 million five-year partnership with the University of Texas Center for Transportation Research. The funding will go towards research and analysis services from the CTR to help the Austin Department of Transportation field with future projects and transportation goals.
“Our problem in this city is there’s zero, no political will to solve the traffic congestion, that’s what the root of the problem is and every time they turn around to spend $1 million here and $500,000 there, $3 million or $4 million, $5 million,” said District Six Council Member Don Zimmerman. “We keep getting back to the same point, which is city staff that wants railroads, bike paths, urban trails, sidewalks anything, they’ll fund and research and study anything except the solution to congestion which is more freeways and we need more lanes added to relieve congestion.”
Zimmerman voted against the proposal. He said after his conversations with civil engineers from UT, he didn’t feel it was clear what the city was getting from them for $2.5 million.
“Studies are a waste of our money, we’ve been doing studies for 30 years and they will not address traffic congestion. We have to cut off the money until they commit, until our city staff commits they don’t deserve any money,” said Zimmerman.
The center is made up of students and researchers from the university. The transportation department would use the CTR as an extra tool and resource for data and experts, rather than going to an outside source.
The center would look at how the timing of the traffic signals impact an intersection. They will analyze where drivers are traveling and if there are patterns and trends that can be identified to see how roads can be improved. The center will also provide a system for the city’s Transportation Management Center to decide the priority of each project.
KXAN News reached out to Council Member Ann Kitchen, chair of the Mobility Committee, the Austin Transportation Department and CTR for comment before the vote, in which all responded they wanted to wait until after council made a decision. KXAN News will keep you updated when that decision is made.